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Display Advertising
Aug 21, 2023

The complete guide to display advertising

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Author Niyathi Rao

Display advertising is a sub-type of online advertising that combines elements such as banners, text, images, video, and audio formats. They are typically served on consumer-facing news websites (such as those for newspapers, cable channels, etc) where users can perform several different types of calls-to-action, such as simply learning more, or buying/booking products or services. 

Display ads can take many forms such as – static, animated, rich media, text, or even audio. Global spending on digital advertising is expected to reach 836 billion dollars by 2026; it is important to understand the display advertising format in detail to add it to one’s marketing mix. 

What is display advertising? 

Display advertising is an important part of online advertising. These are visual ads that are placed on websites, apps, social media networks, or any channel that is clickable and redirects users to dedicated landing pages. Banner ads, mobile leaderboard ads, desktop ads, and more are display advertising examples. These display ads align with the content of the host website or social media network and audience preferences, similar to native advertising

What are display ads?

Display ads are an excellent way for brands to increase the reach of their message and target new potential customers. They are visually appealing and provide an opportunity for advertisers to incorporate copy and graphics into content that will capture the reader’s attention and drive them toward a desired action. Display ads also provide a cost-effective way to advertise with measurable performance, allowing the tracking and optimization of campaigns in real-time. 

The objectives behind display ads can vary depending on the organization and range from building brand awareness to generating leads or driving traffic to certain web pages or specific landing pages. 

By leveraging geotargeting capabilities, businesses can tailor their ad content and call-to-action messages to their exact audience demographics within milliseconds. This enables better customization for specific regions while keeping costs lower compared to traditional advertising methods. 

Additionally, with native advertising gaining recent traction, brands can now present users with relevant content that seamlessly blends within their experience on webpages, enhancing engagement potential.

Display ads versus native ads

Display ads and native ads work pretty closely.

Display ads are one of the oldest and still quite important methods of online advertising. Display ads are an umbrella term used for several types of different ad formats such as banner, text, video, audio, and interactive ads found in emails or web content. The main aim of display advertising is to reach potential customers with memorable visuals (like creative images and interesting videos) while trying to stand out from the sea of content out there.

On the other hand, native advertising is a newer type of online advertisement that looks less aggressive or “pushy” than traditional ads. It works by delivering promotional messages in a way that appears organic and mimics the appearance of non-paid content. This type of advertising usually appears in news feeds or recommended sections on websites so that it fits seamlessly into its surroundings, appearing more as part of the user experience than a disruption. These ads are more organically woven into the content on the website or page. 

Why you should include display ads in your marketing campaigns

Display ads are an effective way of reaching out to customers on a global scale. The Google Display Network, for example, has the potential to serve ads on millions of websites while targeting users with ads that are relevant and timely.

Increase business: Crafting thoughtful messages in various display ad formats can draw attention to your offers and bring clicks, conversions, and sales even from those who may not have considered your business originally.

Raise brand awareness: Remarketing campaigns through display ads are especially useful in increasing brand awareness by reminding users who have visited your website what they’re missing out on once they have left. Display advertising can influence readers in such a way that it increases brand visibility while simultaneously providing users searching for the perfect solution with what they need.

Better return on investment: Selecting the correct target demographic for these campaigns is key to ensuring that each ad-spend investment is as effective as possible in terms of generating ROI for your company’s marketing efforts.


How does display advertising work?

The key to successful display advertising lies in accurate targeting – finding the customers most likely to respond positively to your messaging and using creative strategies to capture their attention. 

1. Define your audience

Creating an effective ad campaign starts with properly defining your audience. Knowing who you want to target and where they are located is essential for ensuring your message reaches the right people. You can begin by identifying the demographic information you wish to target, such as age range, gender, location, and more. 

Additionally, making use of shopping information allows you to narrow your focus even further based on interests and previous behaviors that have been identified as being associated with a higher likelihood of a positive response to your ads.

Here, those who have already visited or interacted with your products or services can be served up additional targeted content that helps keep your brand top-of-mind. Considering who it is that you’re trying to reach can help increase the effectiveness of any ad campaign, as well as ensure that its message resonates with the right people.

2. Set your campaign goals 

When creating a campaign, it is important to establish clear goals. The key performance indicator (KPI) that best represents the desired business outcome should be chosen beforehand and a budget for the campaign should be defined. 

Many settings can also be customized when launching a campaign, including pacing, supply sources, device types, pre-bid traffic filtering, and more. Determining the correct settings depends on the nature of an individual campaign and its aims; however, factors such as ensuring adequate pacing of spend over time to avoid burnout while simultaneously creating competition in the auction space can help increase overall performance.

Utilizing pre-bid filters can also be effective in targeting potential customers without wasting money. Selecting relevant device types within certain platforms can aid alignment with targets while also preventing wasted ad-spend if certain devices are likely to perform poorly or have limited reach.

3.Size display ads to the right specs

Creating display ads to spec is necessary for any successful digital advertising campaign, as the fluctuating size dimensions of modern platforms need to be considered when designing creative for these types of ads. Incorrectly sized ads or those with poorly formatted images can appear odd, reducing their effectiveness and potentially damaging a brand’s online reputation. This not only applies to different devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and desktops but also to multiple formats such as animated GIFs, HTML5 banners, or static images.

It is important to have a single piece of creative that is sized for all the chosen display ad formats required. While some elements of the ad may remain consistent across all sizes, it is certain that some elements will be omitted on certain sizes to create an aesthetically pleasing design. For instance, in larger display ads there could be more room for additional body copy that wouldn’t fit on smaller ad sizes – however, this would need to be omitted in smaller ads to prevent them from becoming cluttered and difficult to read.

4.Monitor the metrics of your display ads

When it comes to monitoring the metrics of a digital display ad campaign, there are numerous factors to take into account. It’s essential to pay close attention to exactly how your campaign settings and creative elements are impacting the success of the advertising, including headlines, visuals, and calls-to-action (CTAs). With this information, you can make changes that improve your acquisition rate, return on ad spend (ROAS), and click-through rate (CTR). 

For example, if you find that your headline isn’t compelling enough or catching enough attention from viewers, then use A/B testing to test alternative copy to increase your reach. Additionally, explore creative options for images and CTAs that might entice more clicks and attract more customers.

5. Analyse learnings for future display ad campaigns

When crafting any display ad campaign, it’s important to take note of what works and what doesn’t so you can optimize for future campaigns. Analyzing the insights gleaned from a campaign can save you time, money, and effort in the long run. Three essential elements to consider when optimizing are creativity, audiences (who will see your ads), and bidding (how much you’re willing to pay).  

Benefits of Display Ads: Key Takeaways for Marketers

Here are the major benefits of display advertising: 

Measurable outcomes 

The success of a display ad campaign can be measured in multiple ways. Depending on the call to action (CTA) used, different marketing metrics can be employed for an effective analysis. 

For instance, if the CTA involves “experiencing the brand”, it could be monitored through clicks on the display ad itself and associated cost per click (CPC). Other visible results that should be involved in measurement include impressions, conversions, return on ad spend (ROAS), etc. 

All these are essential metrics to recognize whether or not the ad created the desired effect with its intended audience. It is also important to estimate what stimulated the shoppers into taking certain actions related to the displayed product or service.

Various data points collected from this type of analysis provide detailed insights into customer behavior. By studying them, advertisers can reach informed decisions about their marketing efforts and associated resources. 

With metrics like engagement rate and engagement index, assessing advertisement campaigns becomes easier than ever before. The combination of diverse metrics allows teams running these campaigns to gain accurate answers and valuable perspectives from consumers; and use them for better future strategies when it comes to making advertising decisions.

Cost-effective solution

Display advertising offers an incredibly cost-effective advertising method that allows for ample flexibility. Not only is it much more affordable than traditional advertising methods like TV or radio spots, but brands can also modify their visuals, call-to-actions, and messaging during a campaign. This lets them continuously optimize campaigns and get the most out of their budget.

For example, if one ad isn’t getting the desired results after it begins running, you can easily switch things up with new creative or messaging. This helps maintain a high level of efficiency while reducing costs per action for your marketing efforts. 

Additionally, since display ads are placed across various networks on multiple websites, you have more potential points of contact with your target market – with no extra cost attached. Display ads offer an unparalleled level of customization and value for businesses looking to maximize their budget in the most effective way possible.

Works well with other channels

Display advertising can be a powerful way to reach potential consumers who may not have considered your brand before. When combined with other channels like social media marketing, it can result in an increased return on ad spend (ROAS) or even create a halo effect that continues to bring new customers after the initial purchase.


Display advertising is an incredibly versatile tool for businesses of all sizes. It allows for flexible testing of various ad copy, visuals, and calls to action, enabling brands to more effectively pinpoint which messages will resonate best with their intended audience. Additionally, it is ideal for testing headlines in less-flexible ad formats such as TV spots or billboards, as well as being effective when used alone or in conjunction with other digital marketing channels.

The majority of display ads are delivered through programmatic advertising technology, making them one of the most widely used forms of advertising. In addition to its flexibility and easy implementation across multiple platforms, this technology also tracks each ad’s performance over time, allowing brands to test different variations and gain useful insights into their campaigns. 

As a result of these advantages, display advertising is a go-to choice (or piece of the marketing mix) for many brands looking to reach new customers or markets online.


Six effective display ad CTA examples

Display ads must have the right CTA to lead to the best results. Instead of generic call-to-action phrases, brands should select ones that yield the right outcomes. Here are some effective display ad CTA examples- 

  • Learn more: To lead to an informational page
  • Shop now: To lead to the product buying page
  • Pre-order now: To lead to the pre-order form if the product is not yet available for purchase
  • Sign up: To lead to the lead capture page
  • Book an appointment: To book an appointment directly 
  • Get your free copy today: To sign up for a free copy or product 


Display ads have become a part of modern life within the online world. However, if used correctly, display advertising is a powerful tool to help increase brand awareness and generate sales. Using these strategies can help ace your display advertising strategy. Keeping it simple with the right words, fonts, and colors can be helpful. Regularly optimizing and testing ad materials and strategies is important. 

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